Winter is on the way, which is fantastic if you enjoy snowfall and snuggly sweaters. However, it's not the greatest news for your outdoor structures. While concrete is a very durable building material, it can still suffer weather damage and exposure to frozen temperatures, and torrential rain. However, you can help keep your outdoor surfaces looking great throughout winter and beyond with a little preparation.
Whether you have a patio, walkway, or other concrete surface, proper care and maintenance is essential to winterize and protect your surfaces from cracks and damage from inclement weather. Find out how you can use Liquid Rubber products and a little elbow grease to prevent replacing your concrete surfaces before their time.
Why You Should Protect Your Concrete Patios, Sidewalks and Pathways
Though extremely durable, concrete is also very porous, which means that it absorbs moisture easily. In warm weather, dew and rainwater sink into the concrete but evaporates easily in the sun. On the other hand, once temperatures dip below 32 degrees, this water freezes and turns to ice. This ice trapped in your concrete patios and other hardscapes expands, causing cracks and spalling, which can even break off pieces of concrete, leading to expensive repairs.
Once cracks appear in concrete surfaces, even more water can infiltrate the porous surface, creating intense pressure that can weaken the structural stability of your concrete — not to mention widening existing cracks!
If you have slab concrete in your backyard, water can saturate the soil underneath. That causes the ground to expand, creating uneven surfaces that can quickly become a safety issue. Fortunately, you still have plenty of time to provide a coat of protection for your concrete before winter sets in. Adding a few steps to your property winterization can keep your patio and other concrete surfaces looking fantastic when warm weather returns!
Clean and Prep Concrete Surfaces
First, it’s critical to inspect your concrete surface for cracks and damage. For slabs that have upheaval, extensive damage and cracks larger than 1/16 inch, you may need to make additional repairs prior to sealing the surface.
Additionally, if you have major concerns about the stability of an entire concrete slab, we suggest calling a local concrete contractor to inspect your patio, walkways and other large concrete surfaces and give an expert opinion.
After inspection, sweep up leaves, dirt and other debris that have collected on your concrete surfaces. It's important to get the surface as clean as possible to facilitate the bonding of the coating with your concrete surface. We recommend using a powerful cleaner such as Liquid Rubber Deck & Patio Cleaner which uses oxygen power to effectively remove stains, mold and mildew that build up on outdoor surfaces. You can use it on your sidewalks, pathways and other concrete structures as well.
How to Use Liquid Rubber Deck & Patio Cleaner
With Liquid Rubber Deck & Patio cleaner, you can ensure that the concrete surfaces — not just flooring — on your property are squeaky clean. It's also a great way to prepare for sealing your concrete patio, driveway or sidewalk.
Prepare your concrete surface by following these steps:
- Wet the concrete surface slightly using your garden hose.
- Next, apply the product with a broom, vented garden sprayer or roller.
- Let the solution stand for about 10 minutes without completely drying.
- Use a stiff-bristled brush or long-handled broom to work the cleanser into the surface. Scrub a small section to ensure that it's getting clean before you move on to the next section. Use this method to work your way over the entire concrete slab.
- For best best results, we recommend using a pressure washer to remove the cleanser, dirt and debris.
- Repeat the application of the cleanser, concentrating on trouble spots.
- We also recommend etching the concrete with our Liquid Rubber Concrete Etch to remove any remaining laitance or cleanser. This will also help the sealant to bond with the concrete and last longer.
Sealing the Surface to Winterize Concrete
When you seal your concrete slab surface, you protect it from water incursion, dirt, grime, mold and other damage that could shorten the lifespan of your surface. It's important to seal your concrete surfaces before freezing weather arrives. This will prevent ice and snow from saturating your concrete and causing it to destabilize.
Start by coating the surface with water repellent sealant that will prevent damage throughout the harsh winter months. This will result in a strong concrete surface when you're ready to use it again in warmer weather. Liquid Rubber Polyurethane Deck Coating is a heavy-duty sealant that is five times stronger than traditional sealants and the best in class when it comes to protecting your concrete this winter. It also provides a decorative finish that looks great and protects your concrete against harsh chemicals used to de-ice walkways, steps and other concrete surfaces.
How to Apply Liquid Rubber Polyurethane Deck Coating
You are now ready to seal and protect your concrete slab surfaces from freezing winter weather.
Follow these steps to properly winterize your concrete:
- Ensure the surface is completely dry.
- Use Liquid Rubber Multi-Purpose Primer as a base to ensure that the sealant adheres to the concrete. Apply a generous coat to create a vapor barrier that can prevent blistering and other damage.
- Use a nylon bristle brush in corners, cracks and slats to ensure proper coverage. Pay extra attention to any cracks that already exist on the surface. When the primer is completely dry, you can apply the polyurethane coating. It usually takes about one to two hours for the primer to completely dry.
- Now, you are ready to apply the Polyurethane Coating. Note that you will apply several coats to complete the job. Allow the first coat to dry for four to eight hours. The material will be completely dry to the touch, and you can step back and ensure the polyurethane coating has a uniform color. Touch the surface and make sure that it isn't tacky or wet to the touch.
- To apply the second coat and subsequent coats, use a roller on large areas and again use a small brush for corners and cracks for maximum coverage. We recommend 1 gallon of material for every 50 square feet of concrete (final coverage). This ensures proper protection and the best appearance for your outdoor hardscapes.
- After you have completed the final coat, carefully inspect the surface. Do you see any flaws? Look for thin spots, imperfections and pinholes from air bubbles. It's important to fix these now before the sealant cures. Stay off of the surface for at least 48 hours and wait up to one week before you put any furniture or other items on the surface to avoid scraping and flaking.
Shop for Liquid Rubber Products to Protect Your Concrete Surfaces
We cannot stress the importance of properly winterizing and maintaining your concrete prior to the harsh winter weather. Liquid Rubber provides nontoxic, easy-to-use products that can save you money without risking quality. Contact our Technical Support team if you have any questions using the products mentioned here or any Liquid Rubber products you find to protect your home surfaces.